Publications by Leo Saffin


Processes Maintaining Tropopause Sharpness in Numerical Models

Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 122 (2017) 9611-9627

L Saffin, SL Gray, J Methven, KD Williams

©2017. The Authors. Recent work has shown that the sharpness of the extratropical tropopause declines with lead time in numerical weather prediction models, indicating an imbalance between processes acting to sharpen and smooth the tropopause. In this study the systematic effects of processes contributing to the tropopause sharpness are investigated using daily initialized forecasts run with the Met Office Unified Model over a three-month winter period. Artificial tracers, each forced by the potential vorticity tendency due to a different model process, are used to separate the effects of such processes. The advection scheme is shown to result in an exponential decay of tropopause sharpness toward a finite value at short lead times with a time scale of 20–24 h. The systematic effect of nonconservative processes is to sharpen the tropopause, consistent with previous case studies. The decay of tropopause sharpness due to the advection scheme is stronger than the sharpening effect of nonconservative processes leading to a systematic decline in tropopause sharpness with forecast lead time. The systematic forecast errors in tropopause level potential vorticity are comparable to the integrated tendencies of the parametrized physical processes suggesting that the systematic error in tropopause sharpness could be significantly reduced through realistic adjustments to the model parametrization schemes.


The non-conservation of potential vorticity by a dynamical core compared with the effects of parametrized physical processes

Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 142 (2016) 1265-1275

L Saffin, J Methven, SL Gray

© 2016 Royal Meteorological Society. Numerical models of the atmosphere combine a dynamical core, which approximates solutions to the adiabatic, frictionless governing equations for fluid dynamics, with tendencies arising from the parametrization of other physical processes. Since potential vorticity (PV) is conserved following fluid flow in adiabatic, frictionless circumstances, it is possible to isolate the effects of non-conservative processes by accumulating PV changes in an air-mass-relative framework. This 'PV tracer technique' is used to accumulate separately the effects on PV of each of the different non-conservative processes represented in a numerical model of the atmosphere. Dynamical cores are not exactly conservative because they introduce, explicitly or implicitly, some level of dissipation and adjustment of prognostic model variables which acts to modify PV. Here, the PV tracers technique is extended to diagnose the cumulative effect of the non-conservation of PV by a dynamical core and its characteristics relative to the PV modification by parametrized physical processes. Quantification using the Met Office Unified Model reveals that the magnitude of the non-conservation of PV by the dynamical core is comparable to those from physical processes. Moreover, the residual of the PV budget, when tracing the effects of the dynamical core and physical processes, is at least an order of magnitude smaller than the PV tracers associated with the most active physical processes. The implication of this work is that the non-conservation of PV by a dynamical core can be assessed in case-studies with a full suite of physics parametrizations and directly compared with the PV modification by parametrized physical processes. The non-conservation of PV by the dynamical core is shown to move the position of the extratropical tropopause while the parametrized physical processes have a lesser effect at the tropopause level.